Justin Verlander has accrued virtually every individual honor available to a starting pitcher: a Rookie of the Year award and World Series Game 1 start in 2006; a no-hitter in 2007; Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, along with the second no-hitter of his career, in 2011.
Tuesday, he will add yet another: a start for the American League in the All-Star Game.
American League manager Ron Washington has chosen Verlander as his starting pitcher for the 83rd All-Star Game. The starters will become official at a 1:30 p.m. ET Monday news conference.
Verlander will oppose San Francisco Giants right-hander Matt Cain, whom Tony La Russa selected as his National League starter. Cain will make his first All-Star start, after a similarly decorated career. He threw a perfect game earlier this season and went 2-0 without allowing an earned run in 21-1/3 innings during the 2010 postseason as the Giants won the World Series.
La Russa chose Cain over R.A. Dickey, the 37-year-old knuckleballer who has become the most compelling story in baseball this year. Two things may have swayed La Russa’s decision: NL starting catcher Buster Posey is intimately familiar with Cain (his Giants teammate) and not familiar at all with receiving a knuckleball; and Cain has a better career track record than Dickey.
Verlander, 29, likely would have been the AL starter last season, but he was ineligible to pitch because he started for the Detroit Tigers on the final Sunday before the All-Star break. This year, there are no such complications. Verlander’s most recent start — his major league-leading fifth complete game of the season — was a victory over Minnesota on the Fourth of July. He will have five days of rest before throwing the first pitch of the Midsummer Classic (MLB on FOX, 7:30 p.m. ET).
The site of this year’s All-Star Game — Kauffman Stadium — is significant in Verlander’s career: It was the stadium where he first appeared on an Opening Day roster, six years ago. Verlander’s lifetime ERA at Kauffman Stadium (1.83) is his best in any ballpark where he has made four or more starts.
Verlander, a five-time All-Star, left little doubt that he would get the starting nod, going 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA over his last six starts while holding the opposition to a .194 batting average. Overall, he is 9-5 with a 2.58 ERA this season and is on pace to lead the majors in strikeouts and innings pitched for the second consecutive year.